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Fine particulate matter air pollution in the urban environment of São Paulo: relative contribution of regional wildfire and local transportation sources


The air pollution in mega cities across the world is worsening due to the growth of population and associated economic activities such as traffic and industrial production. Even cities in the US and Europe are experiencing hazardous air environment in a significant fraction of a year, despite major regulation put into place by the regional and local governments in the last few decades. The composition of PM2.5 in an urban environment can be quite complex per in-situ chemical measurement with the local emission being the dominate source. However, previous studies have also noticed that a considerably large portion can also be transported from surrounding rural and natural areas as well. To provide useful guidance for local air quality management, a quantitative assessment of source and transport pathway for any given air pollution hot spot is greatly needed. Here we propose to start a collaborative project of two principle investigators (PIs) at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University (TAMU) and Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of São Paulo (USP). The project aims to build a numerical modeling framework to understand the source of air pollution in megacity of São Paulo (with possible later application to other mega cities such as Houston). A novel ultra-high-resolution of regional chemistry transport model simulation for State of São Paulo region, with a three-box nested framework, will be developed. We carefully designed the balance of domain size and domain resolution with the explicit goal of attributing local and remote sources. The model simulations will be evaluated against the local chemical measurement obtained by the USP PI. The simulations will also be compared with the results obtained from previous studies with air quality modeling. The project builds on existing strengths of both PIs and is directly connected to an ongoing thematic study funded by FAPESP: ASTRID Project (Accessibility, Social justice and TRansport emission Impacts of transit-oriented Development strategies). The new modeling activity here will contribute to the ongoing research project funded by FAPESP (the ASTRID) is two ways. (1) the availability of high-resolution model will strengthen the human exposure calculation as aimed at in the ASTRID project and (2) attribution of sourced outside the city (e.g. wild fire) will broaden the perspective as originally envisioned in the ASTRID project. Similarly, the proposed modeling activity is a useful contribution to the TAMU research activities on the North and Central America side. The requested funding (largely spent on travel) will enable scientific and technological exchanges (in the form of seminars and short courses) that will likely lead to future funding obtained from both the US and Brazil sources. (AU)

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